Every industry has its own difficult issues and polarizing topics – produce is no exception here. Considering this, every professional and company involved in the food supply chain has its unique approaches to resolving and addressing these concerns. But regardless of opinions and thoughts, something must be done that is universal for all parties involved: communication.
One survey done by the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance found that 72% of consumers reported that they know nothing or very little about farming or ranching but 69% said they think about food production at least somewhat often.
That means there are a lot of people who sincerely want to know about their food production but may not know how to go about learning it. Having a line of communication between the produce industry and consumers can make a lasting impact on the industry.
When speaking with folks outside the produce industry – be it a consumer, colleague, friend, or family member – about food production, you must assume their knowledge of the topic is limited and may come from questionable sources. Many have a heavily media-influenced perspective about “big ag” and the supply chain. But the good news is that many people today, especially Gen Zers, are keenly interested in learning about food and how the industry works.
In fact, a study done by the American Egg Board found that food was a top priority for the Gen Z demographic, taking up nearly a quarter of their spending. As such, they also value how that food is produced and its quality.
Having this understanding is keenly important for approaching and engaging in conversation. It starts with listening and then taking in their perspectives and values. Also keep in mind that the media, especially news outlets and influencer-based advertising, are a cornerstone of where dialogue and understanding come from.
There are a lot of passionate topics and issues in the world, all of which require a degree of poise and communication to resolve effectively. The produce industry is no stranger to complex situations, especially in the forms of social and ethical dilemmas. You will inevitably encounter some of these discussions that are a bit difficult to tackle.
The first step in engaging is acknowledging these issues that exist in the produce industry – not deflecting from them. For example, food waste is a serious concern that poses both a social and sustainability dilemma. Just labor and sustainability are other ethical issues front and center to both the media and consumers.
Those who work in the industry have an obligation to be familiar with them and consider how they can be addressed. Likewise, these conversations also offer a platform to express what good things are happening in the produce industry and what opportunities can be taken advantage of for a brighter future.
Strong communication skills are not only part of good business, but they are also essential for representing and advocating for the produce industry. While speaking with a concerned consumer is very different than communicating with a colleague or coworker in the industry, you want to still apply the same conversation skills and professional mannerisms. Remember you are a representation of the produce sector whether you are on or off the clock, and you want to shine that positive light in the way you express yourself.
Listen to concerns intently and express agreement on common ground when you can. At the same time, you can also share your experience with produce and how you are working to ensure a safe, sustainable and affordable food supply system.
We recognize the importance of communication in the produce industry. That’s why we offer tools that help the industry to increase its communication throughout the modern digital communication channel between buyers and suppliers, increasing product description and transparency, bringing along higher efficiency in the existing business processes!
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